Conciliation for Divorce and Family Law Cases
Our family law attorneys act as mediators and conciliators. As conciliators, we act as neutral third parties to help divorce and family law clients negotiate settlement through a robust form of mediation known as conciliation. When not acting as conciliators, our attorneys also represent individual clients who are engaged in conciliation, with other conciliators in divorce and family law cases. Because our attorneys are also statutory mediators, we are well positioned to serve as conciliators to assist settlement for divorce and family law clients.
What is Conciliation?
Conciliation is a more robust form of mediation, in which the mediator (known in this context as the “conciliator”) review the memoranda and oral presentations of each party’s attorney, then offers feedback on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case, while assisting the parties in negotiating a settlement. Conciliation differs from traditional mediation by empowering the third party neutral (the conciliator) to offer critical feedback to each party, including offering his or her belief of how a judge will probably rule on each party’s’ position if the case goes to trial.
This more robust brand of mediation is often helpful in highly contested cases in which the parties and counsel value the objective feedback of an authoritative neutral party to help “break the logjam” on difficult issues.
To learn more about conciliation, check out our Divorce Conciliation FAQ.
How is Conciliation Different from Mediation?
There are four major differences between conciliation and more traditional forms of mediation:
1. Conciliation often include attorneys. Although attorneys may participate in traditional divorce mediation, it is more common for participants to attend mediation sessions without attorneys. The opposite is true with conciliation. Although self-represented individuals can participate in conciliation, most conciliations include parties who are represented by attorneys. If you are represented by counsel and think that conciliation may be right for your case, talk to your attorney.
2. Attorneys file memos and make arguments in conciliation. Although conciliation is a form of mediation, appearing before a conciliator can be similar to appearing in court before a judge. Each attorney submits a memorandum and Financial Statement prior to the conciliation, and during the conciliation, attorneys generally have the opportunity to offer some form of oral argument on behalf of the client. The process of presenting the case – and receiving the conciliator’s feedback on each party’s position – is a useful way to resolve disputes for parties who need to hear an expert’s opinion on the likely outcome at trial if the litigation proceeds forward.
3. Conciliators press for settlement based on the strength of each party’s case. As we have discussed on our mediation blog, most traditional mediation is “facilitative”, which means that the mediator generally avoids injecting his or her opinion into the settlement negotiations. Instead, a facilitative mediator spurs discussion between the parties to reach an agreement that comes from the participants, not the mediator him or herself. Conciliation is a form of evaluative mediation, in which the neutral third party evaluates each party’s position and actively suggests settlement positions to the parties based on the merits of each party’s position. Conciliation simply takes evaluative mediation to the next level, which each party’s attorney encouraged to present the same case that he or she would make in a courtroom directly to the conciliator.
4. Conciliation often occurs while litigation is ongoing. As we have noted on our mediation blog, mediation can work even after a complaint for divorce has been filed with the court. Nevertheless, it is more common for participants to attempt mediation prior to filing in court. The opposite is generally true for conciliation, which most typically occurs after courtroom proceedings have started. Although conciliation can be a great format before parties to pursue before turning to the courts, most of the conciliations we see involve parties who have already initiated litigation.
To learn more about divorce mediation, check out our Massachusetts Mediation Blog and our Massachusetts Mediation FAQ.
Our Attorneys Act are Conciliators for Divorce and Family Law Cases
Each of our family law attorneys is a trained, statutory mediator. We offer conciliation services at highly competitive rates that are often half the cost charged by retired judges. Ask your attorney if conciliating your case through Lynch & Owens is right for you. To learn more about our conciliation services, including pricing information, please visit madivorcemediators.com/divorce-conciliators/.
Need an Attorney to Represent You in Conciliation? We do that too.
Our attorneys are always ready to represent divorce and family law clients in conciliation. Whether you already have a conciliation scheduled in your case or you believe a conciliation is the best way to resolve your case, give us a call. Clients who choose conciliation often include:
- High conflict and high net worth cases in which each party is represented by an attorney
- Parties whose cases have become bogged down in the court system
- Parties who believe traditional mediation is not a good fit for their circumstances
- Parties whose case is “stuck” on a small number of highly contested issues
- Parties whose case is scheduled for trial many months in the future, often due to Covid-19
- Parties who failed in traditional mediation, but still seek out of court settlement
- Parties who believe their attorneys need an outside voice to achieve settlement
- Parties who are interested in mediation, but want to continue using their attorneys
- Parties who would like to try mediation, but do not want to fully “pause” their case or interrupt the litigation
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